"Grab Yer Gun!"

I've been hearing a lot of gun-talk lately. Mostly, from older men I really, genuinely like. So it's hard to reconcile, and I keep biting my tongue as they say:

"Obama's takin' are guns away!"

"Our dear president is throwing away my freedom!"

I've heard that phrase several times actually: "our dear president." Is there a right wing pundit out there who uses that term for Obama?

Anyway, I shouldn't be surprised. Oregon has always offered a curious cultural dualism: liberals and conservatives, progressive-elite and salt-of-the-earth farmers. To be honest, I can't say I like the cold, clammy liberals with their high ideals, more than the warm, friendly conservatives with their black-and-white worldview and their hellfire religion. I'd kind of like to have it both ways - liberal views and conservative hospitality.

I know: these are GROSS generalizations.

And I digress... gun-talk.

Everybody's scared that Obama's going to take their guns away. Because he agreed that certain limitations were reasonable in certain situations: like gun-plagued-inner-city-Washington D.C.

And here's my conclusion, it might not be popular: if as many white kids were dying of gunshot wounds in America as black kids are, something would be done. But there is a pricetag placed on human life. And we care more about our "God-given-right" to own weapons than we do about creating a society in which laws protect vulnerable youth and minorities in cities and slums we can't fathom from our 10 acres of Central Oregon wilderness (not mine, I rent).

The statistics don't lie: America has the worst violent crimes record among its 1st world peers.

In my last post, I asked who would be willing to give up their own salvation (their "eternal security," their sense of eschatological certainty and spiritual comfort) for the sake of loving people on the fringes and connecting with the real world.

In this post I ask who might be willing to give up their right to bear arms, if it meant saving the lives of children, adolescents, women, elderly - anyone vulnerable to violence? If asking that question leads you to think of quick retorts - apologetics for why guns keep people safer... well, then I guess that's the answer. "Not willing."

Are you angry that "they took your guns?"

I want to try to model a gentler way of approaching the world. I believe in freedom, but not at the expense freedom.


Brent said...

I get irritated with the anti gun talk because it over looks a huge thing... people who want to hurt others don't care about gun laws. You take away guns from everybody and those intent on killing will keep or locate theirs while people who respect the law will reluctantly give up theirs. If its not a gun its a knife or bat.

Come on Pete, I know you have more common since than this.

Besides... Obama is just going to regulate ammo. Whats a gun without bullets:) haha

Wickle said...

Brent, you do overlook a few basic facts in what you're saying ...

Yes, people can still kill with baseball bats and knives. But they can't very well go on the massacres that we see. With a rifle, I can pick people off from a bell tower. (Well, I probably can't, I haven't fired a gun in years and my aim was never that good.) With a knife, I have to get within an arm's reach and even the unarmed can fight back.

As for the idea that the bad guys will still get guns, that is partly true. Many crimes, though, are committed with legally-acquired guns. The husbands who shoot their families don't have vast underworld contacts, they're just using their own guns.

Peter, you raise some interesting points. I'm a lot less of a Second Amendment purist than I used to be, and it's long since time that we have an honest conversation about the role of guns and violence in US culture.

The problem is that any attempt to do so inevitably degenerates into both sides throwing overused cliches back.

Existential Punk said...

The problem is not Obama taking away gun rights except for semi-automatic guns. Who really needs a semi-automatic assault rifle anyways? Can't people be happy with handguns and rifles? Geesh!

Wickie - i agree our nation needs to have a serious conversation about guns and violence, sort of like when Obama gave his race speech.


Al said...

As a Canadian, my first thought is: where did the idea of the 'right to bear arms' come from? Is there something in US history that gave people the sense that they 'need' to be able to shoot things (people or otherwise) at a moments notice?
Then there are the statistics. a couple minutes on Google found the following:
Number of people killed by guns in the United States in 2004: 29,569
In 1998 (the most recent year for which this data has been compiled), handguns murdered:

* 373 people in Germany
* 151 people in Canada
* 57 people in Australia
* 19 people in Japan
* 54 people in England and Wales, and
* 11,789 people in the United States (suicides not included)
(quoted at: http://twocrabs.blogs.com/2crabs/2007/04/gun_violence_st.html)
# The rate of firearm deaths among kids under age 15 is almost 12 times higher in the United States than in 25 other industrialized countries combined. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
# American kids are 16 times more likely to be murdered with a gun, 11 times more likely to commit suicide with a gun, and nine times more likely to die from a firearm accident than children in 25 other industrialized countries combined. (Centers for Disease Control)
(quoted at:http://www.neahin.org/programs/schoolsafety/gunsafety/statistics.htm)

These sources are obviously anti gun violence sites, since those in favor of freedom of access would have no reason to advertise the results of the 'right to bear arms'.
As a note of comparison, Canada has approx. 11% of the population of the US. Notice the difference in gun-related deaths.
And we are worried about the possible results of swine flu!!

Peter said...

Al, great information - thank you! Brent, I'm not sure that it's common sense to keep ignoring a problem because of an idealized "right" (as Al says, "where did that come from?") that has little practicality in the modern world.

Find this gun-defending logic anywhere else in the developed world. You might find it in the war-torn third world, where people truly ARE fighting just to survive. In the US, we've dramatized our situation, more than a little.

Brent said...

Looks like I might be out numbered on this.

Wickle, I understand what your saying but the heart of the problem lies in the human not in the weapon. With a little internet search or a book you could build a bomb to massacre several people. Or simply use Acetylene gas from a local welding supplier.

existential punk, almost all handguns are semi-automatic along with a majority of rifles. In the aspect of mass shootings, assault rifles aren't going to make it any easier to kill more people than the majority of guns that are already out there. One of the first school shootings here in Oregon was with a normal .22 rifle. You have to have a special license to have a full automatic and the authority over that license has to be notified before you go out and shoot it. At least in this state. And the only two reason I can see to have a full automatic is for war or just shooting it at stuff for fun.

Al, Its in the Constitution. The founders of this country wanted everybody to have the right to bear arms for self defense. It was a common law and in many state constitutions before being put into the Bill of rights. The idea that the best way to protect the people are the people protecting themselves.

Peter, the problem is not the right. Its what evil has done with that right. But taking away that right from all will only leave evil with more power to oppress. And I believe not eliminating any violence.

I do not own a gun but would like to be able to. I do not think I would use it to protect myself even though I believe there is a moral difference between killing and murdering. I would not want to take another persons life because it seems out of my authority. And I would want them to have all the chances they can get in this short life to know the great love God has for them. But it doesn't seem fair to only let people with evil intent choose when I should die. And someone who lacks that kind of respect for human life should never live in a society with us who do. How should people be able to protect themselves?

Al said...

Brent--you may be outnumbered on this particular page, but I doubt if you are across the entire US. I expect that right to bear arms is still solidly entrenched in most Americans. Here in Canada we hear "Guns don't kill people, people kill people", and that is true. However, having a gun handy by your front door isn't the same as having to buy a book to make a bomb. Crimes of passion are definitely made easier by having a weapon easily accessible.
I would also think that having a gun available for self-defense doesn't really cut down on the chance of being shot. If you meet a gun-carrying burglar at your front door with your own weapon, I expect at least one of you would pull the trigger. I wouldn't expect the situation to de-escalate until you both put your guns away. And if the target (you) is likely to possess a gun, it's more likely that the burglar would make sure he was adequately armed as well. I go back to the comparative stats I quoted earlier--151 killed in Canada, vs. 11,789 in the US--and we have 11% of your population.

Emily's Man said...

Automatic = hold trigger down and bullets keep firing until trigger is released or you run out of ammunition.

Semi-automatic = one bullet is fired every time the trigger is pulled, but no cocking mechanism must be operated manually by the person in between trigger pulls; the bullet is automatically discharged and a new one loaded. (most modern hand guns)

I hope this clarifies the differences as i notice a lot of people don't know there is a difference. Part of the problem is that a lot of people call semi-automatics automatics just for ease of word use. As already noted true automatics are rarely owned as they require permits and all kinds of hoops to jump through.

Most any one who owns a modern hand gun owns a semi-automatic weapon. Also a number of legitimate hunting rifles are also semi-auto. This should give you some insight into why gun owners get nervous about illegalizing(is this a word?) semi-auto anything.

In my perfect world guns would only be used for hunting, but the world is far from perfect. . .

Peter said...

And let me clarify: although I feel strongly in favor of limiting public access to guns (in spite of some good points made here) I am not "anti-hunting." I think hunting is one of the more humane ways to get access to meat.

Brent said...

Statistic can be construed to make many deceptive points. Its obvious that gun related murders would be less in a country that limits access to guns. Less guns=less GUN murders. That part is true but If you look at strict murder statistic per capita you will see that America is not even in the top 24 of countries in the world. I would take that to show that the guns are not the problem.

TMinut said...

What about the statistic that shows Utah with less personal assaults? It's been attributed to criminals knowing ahead of time that their intended victims are armed, instead the criminals rob while no one is home.

I also would prefer being armed in case our government goes berserk.

I've had to use a weapon many times to fend off attackers, I would HATE to not be able to arm myself! But if your question means that "if it's guaranteed that no one would be hurt by violence, would you give up your right to bear arms" then of course. I just have no reason to believe it would help and every reason to believe it would hurt.

Lax said...

I know that gun rights is a topic that people will always disagree on. I believe, however, that the majority of the population really does want what's best for the population as a whole. The problem is that we all disagree on what is best. Does allowing citizens the right to bear arms have an overall positive or negative impact on the welfare of the society? We don't know. No matter how many studies you do, it's pure speculation on both sides.

Regardless... Pete makes a very good point about our willingness to sacrifice. I think maybe the point might hit home more if we substitute guns for something else.

Let's take automobiles. Every year automobiles are responsible for about 40,000 deaths in the US (although it has been declining).

Maybe a better question would be:

Who might be willing to give up their automobile, if it meant saving the lives of children, adolescents, women, elderly - anyone vulnerable to auto deaths?

Peter said...

Lax, well-said.

Too much of this dialogue involves YOU! [everyone else]

What about ME?! What about US?! What are we willing to do? Willing to change? Willing to sacrifice?

If all we can talk about is what the OTHER GUY [or gal] needs to do - and what I need to do to protect myself and my own interests - then no one gets anywhere. Because all anyone cares about is self-preservation.

Self-preservation is the OPPOSITE of the Gospel.

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